Policy changes blindside students

Editors Note: This story originally stated 1,617 were awarded financial assistance. The correct number of students is 1,167. The story has been changed to reflect that.

When Northern Kentucky University revised their Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy last spring, students were left with questions about how their financial aid packages would be affected.

According to CollegeBoard.org, 1,609 of the 2,001 incoming freshman applied for financial aid last year. Even though only 213 of these students had their full financial need met, 1,167 of those students were offered financial assistance of some sort.

With these numbers, it is no secret that any changes in policy would affect the student body at NKU.

Over the summer, students like Ashley McDaniel received a letter saying they were not meeting SAP guidelines, only to have their financial aid reinstated a month later.

There is also a Facebook group, “Those affected by the new financial aid policies at NKU,” that aims to help students resolve the issues they encountered with the SAP policy. The group, which was formed by McDaniel, urges students to contact Early Alert if their financial aid is retracted.

“I felt extremely misguided and, in a sense, betrayed by NKU when I found out that the new policy would be affecting me based on a school year I completed before the new policy was set to take effect,” McDaniel said.

The policy, which was updated and put into place May 10, evaluated student progress from the previous year.

“My advisers tried their best to explain the new policy to me, but no one quite knew why it was affecting students,” McDaniel said.

Though many students were unaware of the SAP changes, NKU expects students to stay updated on the academic standards held by the university. The current policy was changed due to updated graduation requirements.

Because of this, the SAP policy had to be changed. According to Director of the Office of Financial Assistance Leah Stewart, the federal government requires that all colleges and universities have a SAP policy that measures qualitative and quantitative progress.

The current SAP policy outlines requirements students must meet for federal financial assistance eligibility. NKU’s SAP includes a minimum GPA of 2.0 for undergraduate students and a 1.66 GPA for freshmen. This minimum GPA is required by the federal government and is the lowest GPA allowed for students receiving financial aid.

Students must also complete their degrees within 192 credit hours.

NKU also requires students to complete 67 percent of their attempted credit hours per academic year. This means that a student who attempted a total of 24 credits a year would have to complete a total of 16 hours, according to Stewart.

According to FASFA the federal government gives schools the option to process appeals. NKU’s appeals are processed locally by the Student Financial Aid Appeals Committee.

Grounds for an appeal include the death of a family member, serious illness or injury, or special circumstances determined by the institute.

Students are also given a conditional period during the summer to raise their GPA. These courses are often paid for out-of-pocket.

McDaniel’s case was resolved; however, she does not believe the SAP policy is fair.